A 1203.4 criminal expungement in California can provide a fresh start by dismissing a past conviction and improving your prospects in employment, housing, and professional licensing.

What is a 1203.4 Criminal Expungement?

A 1203.4 criminal expungement, under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, is a legal process that allows individuals to have their criminal conviction dismissed. This means that the conviction is set aside, and the case is dismissed in the interests of justice. Expungements are available to those who have successfully completed probation or were convicted of a misdemeanor or certain felonies and met other eligibility criteria.

Why You Want a 1203.4 Expungement

Obtaining a 1203.4 expungement can offer several significant benefits:

  1. Employment Opportunities: Many employers conduct background checks, and having a criminal conviction can be a major barrier to employment. An expungement can improve your chances of securing a job by removing the conviction from your public record.
  2. Professional Licensing: Certain professions require licenses that can be denied due to a criminal record. Expungement can help in obtaining or maintaining professional licenses.
  3. Housing Opportunities: Landlords often perform background checks, and a clean record can make it easier to secure housing.
  4. Peace of Mind: Knowing that your past mistakes are not visible to the public can provide personal and psychological relief.

What a 1203.4 Expungement Does and Does Not Do

What it Does:

  • Dismisses the Conviction: The court withdraws the guilty plea or verdict, enters a not-guilty plea, and dismisses the case.
  • Improves Background Checks: The conviction will not appear on most background checks performed by private employers.
  • Allows Honest Responses: You can legally state that you have not been convicted of a crime when applying for private sector jobs.

What it Does Not Do:

  • Remove the Conviction from All Records: The conviction is not completely erased. It remains on your record for certain purposes, such as immigration, government jobs, and professional licenses.
  • Restore Gun Rights: If your conviction involved a firearm prohibition, expungement does not restore your gun rights.
  • Eliminate Duty to Register: If you were required to register as a sex offender, expungement does not relieve you of this duty.
  • Prevent Use in Future Convictions: The expunged conviction can still be used as a prior conviction if you are later charged with another crime.

The Expungement Process

The process of obtaining a 1203.4 expungement involves several steps, and having an experienced criminal defense attorney can significantly increase your chances of success. Here’s how your lawyer will typically handle the process:

  1. Eligibility Assessment: Your attorney will first determine if you are eligible for expungement based on your conviction, completion of probation, and any other specific requirements.
  2. Gathering Documentation: Your lawyer will collect all necessary documents, including court records, proof of probation completion, and any other relevant information.
  3. Filing the Petition: Your attorney will prepare and file a petition for expungement with the court where you were convicted. This petition includes details about your case and reasons for seeking expungement.
  4. Court Hearing: In some cases, a court hearing may be required. Your lawyer will represent you, presenting arguments and evidence to support your petition.
  5. Judge’s Decision: The judge will review the petition and any objections from the prosecution. If the judge grants the expungement, your conviction will be dismissed.
  6. Notification and Records Update: Once the expungement is granted, your attorney will ensure that all relevant parties, including law enforcement agencies, are notified, and your records are updated accordingly.


A 1203.4 criminal expungement in California can provide a fresh start by dismissing a past conviction and improving your prospects in employment, housing, and professional licensing. While it does not completely erase the conviction or restore all rights, it offers significant relief and benefits. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help navigate the expungement process efficiently and effectively, ensuring the best possible outcome for your case.